The work of the house in Alcobaça, work of the Aires Mateus studio in the heart of the historic center of Alcobaça, seeks to perpetuate the local scale while maintaining the existing main volume.
Dominated by its imposing monastery – one of the largest and most beautiful in Portugal – the hamlet of Alcobaça is a variegated collection of white volumes that open onto an interior courtyard or a backyard.
It is a small building reconstructed to fit the vernacular scale, and which is surrounded by a fence, also white, crowned on the stone base that forms the topography.
The fence is perforated to open the patio of the house to the views on a nearby river, but its thickness serves to work with the interstices that are created by the difference in level, so that the project is conceived as an ingenious manipulation of the socle , from which the wall emerges and the volume of the old house rebuilt with an extreme minimalism.
The house is reinterpreted with a contemporary language, the typological and constructive tradition of the place.
The house in Alcobaça allows a reading of the superposition of the performances that were carried out in it and reinterprets the relationship of the new interior spaces with the exterior.
In the existing building a vacuum is created, making a revision of the thickness of the peripheral walls and the relation of spaces with the exterior.
The interior space is unified, filled with the light that enters through the skylight, which gives a private and protected environment.
The compartmentalization of the house appears as internal additions, connecting with the exterior through new windows reinterpreted in the facades, and proposing an unexpected internal space.
The extension of the house in Alcobaça assumes the difference between the two exterior levels: the level of the street and the garden, which is generated by the Baca river.
The geometry of the new enclosure defines courtyards that filter distant views.
The main spaces function as a spatial continuum that propagate through the two intervention times.
Modeled with these premises, the interior is a dislocated space that arises from adding, apparently randomly, the different rooms of the house.
Perforated at times to frame the views on the surroundings, this space is illuminated overhead through three small patios whose plants are rotated with respect to the main plot, as if they were the silhouette of dice that, thrown at random, fall as they want in soil.
Photography: Fernando Guerra